Saturday, June 23, 2007

Patricia Sweetow's new show at 77 Geary

Several good shows this month in SF and Oakland. Patricia Sweetow has reopened her gallery at 77 Geary (on the mezzanine), in a raw loft space reminiscent of early Chelsea locations. The inaugural show is "Stop Pause Forward," open until June 30. She's promoting several promising younger Bay Area artists in this show, including Weston Teruya, Jamie Vasta and Jonathan Burstein, and also has a great piece by New York artist Christian Nguyen.

Jamie Vasta

Vasta's paintings made with glitter are intricately drawn and stunningly gorgeous, and in the best of them the narrative is strong enough to overcome my implicit distrust of their beauty. Photos don't do them justice, you really need to see how the light plays off their ersatz surfaces in person. Burstein collages pictures cut from art magazines into self-portraits in which images of famous and unknown artworks, fashion, design and advertising blend to represent the artist as a composite of diverse influences. It's a sophisticated comment on the realities of post-graduate life. Teruya's sculptures suggest garden follies built from a combination of sporting equipment, barricade and natural landscape, and his "Garden Flags" continue the odd safety/sport signification with drawings reminiscent of Ben Peterson (who's recently left SF for Philly - another significant loss to the Bay Area art scene).

Jonathan Burstein

Christian Nguyen's work is new to me, and quite intriguing. Sacristy, Altar and Mizrab, 2006, is a scroll covered in intricate pencil drawings, architectural in nature, that Nguyen encodes with complex philosophical, mythological and spiritual intentions. The elaborate web of advancing and retreating spaces suggests M. C. Escher seen through a Modernist lens. This work is from the series The Empty Space (2003-06), which Nguyen's artist statement says is based on the story of the Tower of Babel, a fantasy of uniformity and cohesion.

Christian Nguyen

Sweetow's July show will be video art, curated by Jeanne Finley and featuring recent CCA grads David Gurman and Amanda Herman, as well as Tommy Becker and Bayete Ross-Smith, both of whose new work I'm excited to see. Solo shows for Jamie Vasta, Bayete Ross-Smith and Christian Nguyen are coming up later in 2007-08. It's encouraging to see her bring some fresh energy to sometimes stodgy Geary Street. I wish her great success.

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